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Lecture

6.1 ARTH 213, October 17th

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Department
Art History
Course
ARTH 214
Professor
Cathleen Hoeniger
Semester
Fall

Description
ARTH 213 Renaissance Art and Architecture Wednesday, October 17 2012th Early Renaissance Architecture in Florence Defining Elements of Renaissance Architecture 1. Importance of (Roman) Antiquity  Number of ancient roman ruins lying around – making it easier to emulate ancient architecture and sculpture  Many ruins in Pisa  So many bits and pieces of architecture and sculpture that it wasn’t difficult to emulate 2. Strong Tuscan-Romanesque style  Grey and white marble in an ornamental pattern  Ex: Florence Baptistery  Distinguishing feature: very angular quality (both in overall polygonal form and crisply cut rectilinear pattern of marble ornamentation) 3. Discovery of what they needed in order to rationalize the elements of classical architecture  Vitruvius, De Architectura, o 1 century BCE o Contributed to theoretical framework, proportions, and the use of the orders of architecture (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian) o Transcended the years through monks o Originally there were images that have been lost  Vitruvius preserved the now lost Greek and Roman works on architecture – they had had a lot of writing about architecture 4. Florence Baptistery  Connects all the elements  During the 1400s it was believed to be an ancient temple of Mars that had been converted into a Christian baptistery (obviously not true)  Contest (1401) for the creation of Bronze doors for the baptistery o At least 7 sculptors made entries – they were given subjects to portray (Sacrifice of Isaac) o Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi both made entries – were the two finalists o Were given a set subject to portray that was to be enclosed in a quatrefoil frame of a certain dimension  Supposed to portray the story of the sacrifice of Isaac – story was seen to foreshadow the sacrifice of Christ o There was already a set of bronze doors made by Nicola Pisano in the 1330s, but there were two other portals that needed to be filled o 34 judges argued between the finalists (Ghiberti and Brunelleschi) o Partly a technical exercise, but also had to do with the personal style of the artists o Ghiberti won o Both artists belonged to the goldsmith guild and were relatively young (20-25) o Ghiberti became a very influential sculptor in 15 century Florence – because he won this competition o Brunelleschi rose to fame as an architect  Apprenticed to a goldsmith as a boy Brunelleschi  Born in Florence, 1377  Family was quite well to do and influential in city politics  Was literate (could even read some Latin – a sign of a good education)  Apprenticed to a goldsmith as a boy – a very technical craft using scientific knowledge and precision  When he lost the baptistery door competition he was so angry and so offended that he went to Rome with Donatello to plot his artistic comeback  Hotheaded and impulsive – very difficult to get along with  Attention turned from sculpture to architecture – never wanted to lose a competition again  While in Rome made pictures of all the Ancient Roman ruins  Was very scientific and enquiring – wanted to know how the ancient buildings survived time o Could see that the Pantheon used patterned arched brick work  Coffering was used to lighten the load of the dome  Had been around for over 1000 years and was still standing o Would make many domes, trying to emulate these ancient buildings  Brunelleschi’s role in the development of linear perspective o Key feature of Quattro cento art o Developed a new mathematical theory of perspective o Allowed the artist to create the illusion of depth on a flat surface o Fixed the viewpoint of the viewer to the same location of that of the artist o Mainly used for architectural purposes because the viewpoint is usually very low on buildings (because of the size difference) o Devised a viewing method that demonstrated linear perspective by controlling the viewer’s perspective (at about a square braccio)  Braccio = a unit of measurement at the time, about an arm’s length  See device on the slide – essentially a mirror held in front of the viewer, looked at through a hole in a panel where the average man’s eye level would be, look through the panel and see the reflection in the mirror  Lifting the mirror would cover the view of the baptistery to reveal the painting, which would be an exact replication  Look up linear perspective on Khan Academy o Had enormous appeal because of the Renaissance aspiration for naturalism  Allowed renaissance artists to create the illusion of three dimensional space on a two dimensional surface  Painters refined and developed Brunelleschi’s ideas over time o Relief sculptors transformed Brunelleschi’s constructions into a system of linear perspective in the 1430s it was codified by Leon Batiste Alberti  Single vanishing point  Returned to Florence in 1418 for a debate regarding the Florence Cathedral (Duomo), begun in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio o No one knew how Cambio had intended the building to be finished  The dome had been left incomplete o Brunelleschi went to the meetings to attempt to solve the problem and shared his thoughts – which weren’t always appreciated o Brunelleschi figured out how to build the dome and since they had no other viable ideas, they had to listen to him o The building committee (Operai) were very suspicious of Brunelleschi – so they appointed Ghiberti to be co-architect o Italian word for dome is ‘cupola’ o Once it was completed, Ghiberti tried to take the credit in his autobiographical account – he had only been co-architect for a couple years, he didn’t deserve the credit o Begun in the 1420s amidst opposition from the building committee o Dome, Florence Cathedral, 1420-36 o Insisted that only he knew how to do the job because of his studies in Rome  Only he could achieve what the medieval masons couldn’t  The hole was too wide for any of the conventional wooden techniques  Modified ancient means to achieve the contemporary needs o More pointed dome – recalls the designer’s roots in the guild system of the later Middle Ages o Developed a technique to emulate coffers – created empty cavities of space (used vertical ribs of stone and criss-crossed it with brickwork) – traditional framework wasn’t strong enough to hold the masonry of this dome  Made for a fairly light frame  Looked kind of like a waffle iron o Turned the medieval octagonal opening into a circle, by bridging the corners with brickwork so he could lay the masonry in a circular fashion o Built up in a spiral-like manner o Hid masonry with plaster (inside) and weather-proof tiles (outside) o Was a temporary octagonal oculus until the lantern could be built o Brunelleschi still managed to impose mathematical order on the dome  Half as wide as it is tall  Originally had wanted to build a hemi-spherical dome, however the existing drum of the cathedral would have been crushed by a hemi
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